After a month-long period of inhibition, the Hubble Space Telescope is fully operational again after a succesful remote repair.
By Donovan Martin Jr.
One of Earth’s greatest looks to the great unknown of space, the Hubble Telescope, is finally operational again. With the telescope being constructed in the 1980s and launched on April 24, 1990, the technology was revolutionary. The 43.5 foot long and 24,500 pound NASA instrument greatly improved how we view the cosmos. This marvellous device hangs in low Earth orbit, collecting an outstanding amount of data. However, the computer used to do this was outstandingly out of date. To ameliorate this issue, scientists at NASA. pulled off a difficult remote update of the telescope’s computers.
On June 13, 2021, the orbiting vessel shut down. The Hubble team diagnosed the issue in the payload computer. The payload computer was the NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer-1 (NSSC-1) system. It was built in the 1980s and located on the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling unit. After closer analysis, the scientists realized that the prime problem was the degradation of memory banks. Such is natural in a void that is constantly hit with immense amounts of cosmic radiation. The necessity to move to a system that was less damaged was palpable. Thankfully, NASA prepared for such in advance, them being able to switch to the backup memory modules and a backup payload computer onboard the spacecraft.
It took days of training and practice procedures, yet the scientists at NASA were successfully able to switch between hardware. “Hubble is back!” Tom Brown, head of the Hubble mission office, emailed to staff at the Space Telescope Science Institute on July 16, 2021 at 5:56 a.m. “I am excited to watch Hubble get back to exploring the universe.”
In the first days since the spacecraft went offline, the operations team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland hopefully stated “Assuming that this problem is corrected via one of the many options available to the operations team, Hubble is expected to continue yielding amazing discoveries into the late 2020s or beyond,” And their hopes proved true.
With the Hubble Space Telescope now fully operational once again, we can continue our pursuit of knowledge and exploration of the final frontier.